“Oussekine”, the intimate story of a “dark page in French history”

Long before George Floyd or Adama Traoré, another symbol of police brutality. On the night of December 5-6, 1986 in Paris, Malik Oussekine, a 22-year-old French student of Algerian descent, died after being beaten up by the police. Before our brothers of Rachid Bouchareb in selection in Cannes, OussekineA four-episode miniseries available this Wednesday on Disney+ returns for the first time to this tragedy and the family’s struggle to bring justice.

The intimate story, as dignified as it is moving, of a “dark page in French history, never covered”, according to Antoine Chevrollier, creator of this powerful fiction projected at the end of the Series Mania festival.

Paris, December 5, 1986, Malik Oussekine, a student with no history at the School of Real Estate Professions (ESPI), emerges from a jazz concert. After several weeks of protests against Alain Devaquet’s university reform project, clashes rage between protesters and the police.

“The State is killing, an example Malik Oussekine”

The platoon of air police officers on motorcycles is on a mission to flush out the crooks. Malik Oussekine, who nevertheless stands beside the movement, is shadowed by these motorcyclists. He was beaten up in the lobby of a building on rue Monsieur-le-Prince in Paris, where he thought he was taking refuge. He died a few hours later at Cochin Hospital of cardiac arrest caused by his injuries.

A tragic tale of an optical illusion that Antoine Chevrollier has been thinking about since he heard “Malik Oussekine’s first and last name” as a teenager on a title from the rap group Assassin’s album, released on June 2, 1995. “The chorus said: “The state is killing, an example of Malik Oussekine.” Black baron.

“We didn’t want to tell the story of an Arab, but that of Malik”

Antoine Chevrollier and his co-authors Faïza Guène, (author of loves loves tomorrow), Julien Lilti (Hippocrates) and Cedric Ido (The good life) take the position of Malik Oussekine’s family: his mother Aïcha (Hiam Abbass), his brothers Ben Amar (Malek Lamraoui) and Mohamed (Tewfik Jallab) – surrogate father of the siblings since the death of their father Miloud (Slimane Dazi ) – and his sisters Fatna (Naidra Ayadi) and Sarah (Mouna Soualem).

“It was clear that it was mainly the story of a family. We spoke very quickly about the intimate point of view, that of his family. After all, grief is universal,” emphasizes Faïza Guène. “We knew very quickly that we wanted to get out of the symbol of police blunders and touch something intimate so that the project could take on all of its universality. You had to experience something tangible, emotional,” adds Julien Lilti.

“Sarah, Ben Amar and Mohamed are still alive. We met them. We had to build a relationship of trust. During long interviews, they have given us many keys to go precisely to this place of empathy and understanding and to feel this pain more strongly,” continues Antoine Chevrollier.

“What I find interesting in our approach is that Malik was killed because he was Arab, he was instrumentalized in a positive way because he was Arab. We didn’t want to tell the story of an Arab, but that of Malik,” explains Julien Lilti.

Malik cannot be the symbol of a generation of immigrants

The series also looks back on the wave of emotion that followed the murder and on the marches that gathered thousands of people in France where they chanted “Never again”. No more police brutality, no more racism.

“But Malik couldn’t be the symbol of a generation of immigrants, because he was just Malik, just an individual. Perhaps a way of saying: let’s stop bringing people back to their first visible identity, to what they appear to be, let’s try to remember that we are a sum of individualities and it’s like we can form a community.” , the screenwriter analyzes .

“A state mechanism when there is police brutality”

Oussekine does not hide the political dimension of the drama, nor the attempts to cover it up, in particular that of the Deputy Minister for Security, Robert Pandraud (Olivier Gourmet)

“We describe a whole state mechanism when there is police brutality. In the Adama Traoré case we find exactly the same mechanism as in the yellow vests. We will systematically criminalize the victim, intimidate the family to lead to denial of justice, ostensibly to protect the state, society. Ultimately, we create irreparable rifts’, Julien Lilti laments.

Malik Oussekine’s Last Heartbeats

“We’ve always told ourselves that we couldn’t think of this story outside of an ethical issue,” says Faïza Guène. The scenarios are based on interviews with the lawyer Georges Kiejman (Kad Merad), Jacques Attali, Patrick Ecollan, the resuscitator of the Samu or even Paul Bayzelon (Louis Barthélémy), the only eyewitness to what happened. Dec 5-6 “We have met most of the living protagonists we discover in fiction”, Antoine Chevrollier welcomes.

“With Georges Kiejman it was very simple, he wanted to tell the story. Paul Bayzelon hadn’t spoken about the case, that is, the trial, since 1990. We felt that thirty years had passed, it was quite strong ”, explains Antoine Chevrollier. And to add, touched, Patrick Ecollan, the resuscitator of the Samu “kept Malik Oussekine’s last heartbeats, his electrocardiogram”.

For some more distant protagonists, the affair was “a sign of political commitment, Faïza Guène recalls, citing David Dufresne, Yannick Jadot or even Mogniss H. Abdallah. It was quite liberating for them to talk about it. †

“The goal is to heal the wounds. By telling ourselves, by looking our story in the eye, we heal a little bit. By showing what happened, this unpunished state violence, this judicial injustice, I hope that we can allay some resentments,” concludes Antoine Chevrollier.

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